Since before Halloween, stores have been putting out their Christmas merchandise. Red ribbons and silver bells along with trees of every shape, size, and color wait in the stores to decorate someone’s home. I actually saw a metallic purple tree in Savannah a few weeks ago. It was resplendent with pink lights and green ribbons. I won’t say I hated it, but I wouldn’t want it standing in my living room for the month of December—actually not even one day of it. I’m more a traditionalist myself. I want my old faithful ornaments that the children and grandchildren made or that we’ve collected over the years. I also like the ornaments that someone chose or made just for my family. Just today we added a handful of red Santas done in plastic canvas and filled with Hershey’s kisses. None of our ornaments are expensive. They have little monetary value, but to me they are priceless. I do like my Christmas tree.
I love the feeling of Christmas. People are nicer in December. Watch carefully as shoppers throw change or folded bills into the Salvation Army buckets. Groups visit the nursing homes and turn their attention to giving. We collect food for the disadvantaged and presents for needy children. The idea of Christmas reminds us to care for each other, to be the kind of people we should be year round.
Yet people complain constantly about the commercialism of Christmas. An incredible number of ads are directed toward children. My son Calvin calls it the “I-want-a season.” If you click on Facebook, America’s modern-day backyard fence, you’ll see all the slogans: Keep Christ in Christmas. Christmas ain’t about money! Jesus is the reason for the season.
Let us stop and think for a minute how the world got in this problematic position. Christmas wouldn’t be so commercial if we, the consumers, didn’t spend like lunatics, buying every whachamacallit and thingamabob out there. Supposedly it starts on Black Friday. People trample each other, snatch sale items, and growl and snarl like wild dogs to save a few dollars. Where’s that Christmas spirit I was just talking about. Obviously, it stays home on Black Fridays.
We can’t change the world from a Facebook page or a billboard, but we can change the way we celebrate Christmas in our own households. Christmas is a mere 21 days away. Whether your shopping is done or not, take some time to spend with the children you love. Read “T’was the night before Christmas” to them. Cuddle on the couch and watch Rudolph and the Grinch. Don’t forget Frosty the Snowman. Make some gingerbread cookies and let little hands help. So what if they get the kitchen all messy. Most kitchens are washable.
If you’d like to spend a little quality time remembering the reason for the season, then let me encourage you to grab your family, your neighbors, and your friends and visit Walk Through Bethlehem behind First Baptist Church right in the middle of downtown Baxley (Dec.9 from 6-9, Dec. 10,11 from 5-9). You’ll step backward from 2011 to the night Jesus Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem. You might tremble at the raucous shouts of the Roman soldiers or be forced to surrender your only shekel to pay the tax collector. Maybe you’ll get a minute to pray in the synagogue. You might grimace as you watch the blacksmith making nails for the crosses, but calm down as you visit Joseph, Mary, and the new baby in the stable out in the country side.
As Christmas Day rushes upon us again, we can’t change the way the rest of the world celebrates. We can however, change the way we do things around our own trees or hearths. We can change our own worlds. It’s entirely up to each individual to celebrate as he or she wishes. May it forever be so.